Illusions begin, p.9
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       Illusions Begin, p.9

           N.L. Greene
 

  ***

  When the alarm blared, Becky groaned. She really hated mornings.

  Swinging her feet over the side of the bed, she turned the alarm off. She knew she would regret staying up so late. She was more tired than usual and seriously considered calling in. The only thing that stopped her was the knowledge that within minutes of calling in, her mother would be on her doorstep, demanding to know what was wrong with her daughter, probably forcing her to see a doctor immediately.

  She would rather face work, tired and grumpy, than deal with her mother. Given the mood she was in, that wouldn’t be a fun visit. So she went about her morning ritual and grudgingly got ready for work. It wasn’t until she walked into the bathroom to apply her make-up that she saw the little black business card lying on her counter. Picking it up gingerly in her fingers, she studied it again. She was still curious about how it managed to find its way into her pants pocket and even more curious about what it was for. The card was so plain and simple, with no helpful information on it what so ever. Although the embossing and name in the center were very pretty, it told her nothing. She couldn’t deny that it intrigued her and made her want to type in the website just to see what it was all about. Glancing at the clock, she knew that she didn’t have time now. Not only did she not want to be late, but she had an appointment she had to keep. A police officer would be meeting her this morning about the attempted mugging yesterday. She could not be late for that, in fact, she needed to be early to warn her father.

  God forbid he heard about the police being there and questioning her from someone else. Not only would he be furious, but he would be worried. That was another reason for her to dread this morning even more so than others. After hearing the story of what took place on the subway, she knew her parents would insist she move back home. That was sure to be a long and torturous argument. Sighing with defeat, she placed the card back on her bathroom counter, turned up her IPod, and finished getting ready for work. Sadly, her music couldn’t even boost her spirits this morning.

  She made great time and managed to get to work early, but the raised eyebrows she received only made her grumpier. Why did her coming to work early have to be a big deal? Ralph and Helen were two of the culprits and they didn’t even bother trying to hide their amusement.

  “Don’t even start with me Ralph,” Becky grumbled without looking at him as she made her way to the elevators.

  “Yes Ma’am,” she heard him say with a strained voice, no doubt trying to keep from laughing at her.

  She narrowed her eyes and took her frustration out on the elevator button, pushing it a few more times than necessary and just little too hard, all the while muttering under her breath, “stupid thing, hurry up.”

  Helen wasn’t any better at hiding her amusement at Becky’s early arrival when she finally walked off the slow elevator and onto her floor. Helen raised an eyebrow in disbelief and started to open her mouth. Becky was still entirely too grumpy about what the day held for her and was not ready for normal conversation. However, she didn’t want to sound mean, so she held up her palm and shook her head at Helen. “Just give me a minute, please.”

  This time Helen’s eyebrows shot down and her teasing smirk turned into a frown. “Okay, but only five. Then I’ll be in there and you’ll be explaining.”

  “Yes ma’am.”

  Becky moved into her office and slipped into her leather chair. Procrastinating as long as she could, she pulled out her laptop and powered it up. As soon as it was on she groaned. She had totally forgotten to go through her e-mail the night before like she had promised herself she would. Now she had hundreds more! Turning from her mountain of work, she picked up the receiver to her desk phone. Finding nothing else to distract her and knowing that Helen would be knocking on her door at any moment for an explanation, she dialed her dad’s extension. Might as well get this over with now, she thought to herself as she listened to the phone ringing on the other end.

  “Wellington here,” her father’s crisp voice sounded through the phone.

  “Morning Daddy,” she said, not nearly as calm or confident as he sounded.

  And apparently he could tell. His voice instantly became softer and more alert. “Good morning baby girl, what’s wrong?”

  “Oh nothing. I was just calling to check on you,” she deflected, hoping to ease his mind.

  It didn’t work. “Oh no missy! Don’t you think I know you better than that? Not only are you early to work, which I know never happens...” She could feel the blush creep up her cheeks at being caught. She hadn’t realized her father knew, which was just stupid on her part, he knew everything that happened within the walls of this building. “But Ralph already called up and told me you were in a bad mood. You are never in a bad mood when you talk to him. So, tell me why you’re really calling, honey?”

  She let out an audible breath and slumped back into her chair. “Okay, but you aren’t going to like it.”

  “I’m sure I won’t but you’re going to tell me anyway,” there was a hint of command creeping into his voice letting her know she wasn’t getting out of this easily.

  “So, yesterday on the way home from work a man tried to rob me on the subway,” she said the words fast and held her breath when she finished.

  “WHAT!?” her father bellowed over the phone so loudly she had to pull the phone from her ear.

  Before he could have a heart attack she rushed on. “Don’t worry Daddy. I wasn’t hurt and it was on a full car so he didn’t intend to hurt me. Anyway, I stole his wallet and reported it to the police. They will be here in an hour to take my statement and retrieve the wallet,” she waited quietly for her father to respond. When she heard nothing, she finally asked softly, “Daddy?” There was no answer.

  She hung up the phone quickly and ran out of the office. She made it to Helen’s desk and the front of the lobby just as the elevator doors opened and her father walked off. His stride was purposeful and swift as he made his way toward her and scoped her up in his arms, lifting her off her feet and holding her tightly to his chest.

  “I’m okay Daddy,” she whispered into his neck.

  He made a noise in the back of his throat and held on to her for a bit longer. It was Helen clearing her throat that brought him back to where he actually was. He dropped Becky back to her feet but didn’t let her move away from him. Instead he wrapped his arm firmly around her shoulders and kept her close to his side as he looked at Helen.

  “What on earth is going on Katherine Rebecca?” Becky felt bad for the concern in the woman’s voice but she knew that her father was the first one she needed to tell. She opened her mouth to explain but her father interrupted.

  “Come with us back to Katherine Rebecca’s office, Helen. There are some things we need to discuss.”

  Helen raised her eyebrow in question, but trailed obediently behind them to the office. Once inside, Becky explained everything that happened, in much more detail than she had planned because they both kept asking questions. By the time she was finished explaining, the police were there and she had to do it all over again. Becky twisted the story just a bit when she explained how she became in possession of the man’s wallet. She didn’t think details of how she used some of her magic skills to not only trick the man, but to also steal his wallet, would go over very well with the police or her father. Instead, she just said that she saw it sticking out of his pocket and snatched them both back as he was walking off the train. Among the large crowd, it was believable that she could have succeeded without any sort of retaliation from the would-be-thief.

  By the time the police left, after informing her there would be a formal investigation and probably a need for her to identify the suspect once they arrested him, she was exhausted. She let out a tired breath when the elevator doors closed and the office was quiet once again. She glanced at the clock on the wall to see that it was already lunch time. Her work day hadn’t even
begun yet. She hadn’t started on the massive amount of e-mails waiting on her or looked at the stack of messages Helen had left for her. As if sensing her inner turmoil, her father wrapped his arm around her shoulders and squeezed her tight. “Why don’t you go home and get some rest. I’m sure Helen can man the desk for the day.” Helen nodded her head in approval when they both glanced in her direction. “Besides, you’re going to need some energy for later,” her father finished solemnly.

  Becky looked at him questioningly. Her father at least had the sense to look uncomfortable when he explained. “I will wait until I get home this evening, but your mother has to know about this and when she does, well…you know your mother.”

  Becky groaned and buried her face in her hands. “Do you have to?” she asked hopefully but already knew the answer.

  “I’m afraid so. Neither one of us would live it down if she found out from someone else. And with our line of work and contacts, it’s bound to happen at some point. Better to get it over with as soon as possible,” he gave her another squeeze and started moving her toward her office. “Now get your things and go home. Take a nap and relax. I won’t be home until after six, so you have some time.”

  She sighed, “Okay. Love you Daddy.” She reached up and kissed his soft cheek then gathered her things and headed home. By the time she walked through the door of her apartment, she was dead on her feet. She tossed her things on the sofa, kicked off her heels, and stripped down to her bra and panties. Not bothering to put anything else on, she crawled into bed and promptly fell asleep.

 
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